Timeline of Grace

Journey through the Seasons

Category: Faith (page 1 of 3)

Back to school…now sending two!

Today I sat across from my little boy today in Costa Coffee….he was still “too young” for a local church’s holiday club. Too Young….hmmmm that won’t be for much longer. I also came across this rather morbid poem.  
I think this new job has come just at the right time. When people say the customary “you won’t know what to do with yourself” or “just think all this time to yourself now” I smile, knowing I’m probably not going to know what’s hit me and my days will very quickly fill up and I’ll be scrambling to “get stuff done” between 9-3 each day.
But like, whatever about me.
The real thing is going to be the issue of where he is from 9-3. Not just physically, in a school building, but where he is mentally, emotionally. With Iona I didn’t give it a thought. I figured she was a bright enough girl for school, she loved being with friends, and she’d sail along. She wasn’t one of those kids you’d worry about, fearing it’d be “too much, too soon”.  She’d take it all in her stride, and of course every teacher she had would “see” her unique capabilities and love her.
I wasn’t counting on her first teacher being off sick most of the year due to personal issues, a string of supply teachers, and a change of head teacher all in the same year. I also wasn’t expecting her year one teacher to move to Switzerland halfway through the year.
I was determined to not be one of those parents who worried about her education or her standing in the school. I trusted the teachers to be bright enough to notice her and to bring out the best in her, and for awhile I experienced such a teacher the second half of year one. But then year 2 came, with a new teacher again, and out of the blue she was suddenly a child who was “struggling” (her words, not mine….which in itself is like…really??)
It can all be boiled down to perhaps a little girl still tired from her big trip to America being smacked in the face with the realities of year two, more work, more writing, more “if you don’t get it done you’ll miss playtime” on the very first day of the term,  for her confidence to be knocked right out from under her.
So now I have a daughter facing year three who doesn’t think she’s particularly bright and sees herself as someone who “struggles” and isn’t as good as her friends. This is of course the very situation my dear home educating friends fear the most and what often motivates them to keep their kids out of the whole flipping system.
Me…well I’m holding out hope, because I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum…so I’m willing to write it off as a year that was less than ideal with hopes of things improving.
So now it’s Judah’s turn. My beautiful unique boy who’s teacher sent us a scrapbook to personalise during the summer holidays….and deep inside I’m thinking “oh no is this some sort of test for her to see which parents are bothered and which parents are “those parents”???? Ugh.

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It’s pretty obvious from this just how much TV has filled the first five years of his life.

So as Iona has faced her difficulties with school with grace, and is slowly recovering from a rough start to last year. My prayer for Judah is this, that he will not lose the song that in his heart.

So on that note, this is what I have to remind myself of:

  • My kids are privileged to go to school
  • We actually have a choice of several good schools.
  • They’re going to come out of the 7 years of primary school learning to read and write and that’s more than most children in the world.
  • I’ve been able to spend nearly five years at home with him pretty much full time.
  • Teachers may come and go, but both of his parents will be here when he comes home every night.
  • He may have a teacher one year who doesn’t get him, but he’s got a family who adores him.
  • He’ll have issues with teachers sometimes, and with friends….but nothing we can’t be there for him through.

I will remember this as he puts on his school uniform and suddenly looks about 10 years old.

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My take-away from IF Gathering, (The Esther Generation Poem by Ann Voskamp)

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Two weekends ago, I got cozy on the couch in front of my laptop and tuned in to the “IF Gathering” live stream. Christian women from around the states gathered in Austin Texas, and in their own front rooms and churches around the country to listen, pray, and explore answers to the question, “If God is Real….then what?”
I may have been the only person in the UK watching…maybe, maybe not. I always said I’d never “go back” to the States, and that I was so relieved to be living out from under the American Christian subculture I had grown up with, that helped to mould and shape me, and that I’ll always have a soft spot for, and call ‘home’, but….that I never really truly settled into. I tried, but It always felt like a shut door. Something I’d moved on from.
Yet here I am now, fascinated by what’s going on. When I tune in,  read their blogs, laugh at their Facebook statuses, I feel so relieved…..that I wasn’t the only one….and that God is doing something so fresh and new yet born out of a beautiful legacy of the previous generation….I don’t think I’ll ever get on their radar or get to meet them or work with with any of them directly, but their heart’s cries are resonating with this heart, possibly because, they are so incredibly in to Jesus…and so am I. I feel a thin thread still links me to them, and I’m drawn to what God is doing among them. I maybe feel a bit of a twinge of sadness that I’m not ‘in it’ with them, that I jumped the ship and found a new one a long time ago….but as I gaze across the (hypothetical) pond….I’m so glad to know they are there…and that they are doing this thing, God bless you Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, and Jennie Allen, fellow American Christian sisters of my generation….I’m so proud of you…and so thankful you are there doing what you’re doing…being who you’re being.From what I was able to stream that weekend, this poem, transcribed, (not published yet…and as soon as it is officially, I’ll do a proper link to Ann’s page) had me sat on my couch choking up, with tears, streaming. I want to share it with my friends…my friends here in the UK who are doing this life with me here….and those who I left behind….GET in on this!! :) 
 (From IF:Gathering)
 The Esther Generation, BY ANN VOSKAMP 
They say you should travel light
But most of our lives we carry it all on our backs
These days it isn’t our arms that stay weighed down
It’s our minds
We wake up in a panic
Its our thoughts that hyperventilate for fear
Of making mistakes.
For fear of failing or succeeding
Or fear that we’ll never move past our past
That we’ll be exactly who they said we’d be
That we’ll never be more than what was done to us
That we will continue to be taken advantage of
That we should accept shame as a companion to carry with us
That we should let the lies befriend us
The lies
started in a garden
Spoken slyly by a slithering serpent with his syrupy sweet: “Did God really say?”
And we’ve be doubting ever since
Allowing an unwelcome guest to make himself at home in our lives, minds, gardens
Keep us bound with slithering fear
that we are damaged goods
Never going to be good enough
Not enough brains, not enough brawn
Not enough guts to take anything on.
 But there is no time for being soft or weak
That at all times we have to be tough
That We’ll never be perfect that
We’ll never be worth it
That we’ll never be enough
And sometimes we feel God calling us, nudging us
Trying to show us
but somehow we stay trapped
Behind walls of unbelief and unforgiveness
Our arm’s a weary rope caught in a vicious tension
Tug of war between our fear and our calling
Between worry and peace
Comfort and inconvenience
Comparing ourselves to each other
While battling low self esteem 
Do we do what’s practical?
Or follow our dreams?
Do we take care of ourselves?
Or meet others people’s needs?
Should we fight?
Should we please?
Should we hide from who we are to put other people at ease?
And then the lies begin to echo and amplify
Loser
Time abuser
Mess producer
Who needs you?
She’s so much better
Just look at her
You actually thought that was a good idea?
Open your mouth and they’ll laugh long enough that you’ll shut your mouth
You aren’t smart enough
You aren’t good enough
You aren’t sharp enough
Who do you think you are?
Fear is our chain and it’s rattling us hard
the poison that deadens our hearts
Fear of failing
Fear of flailing
Fear of the arrows
Fear of the way named narrow
Fear of the shear rock in front of you that begs you sweat and climb
Climb out of that drug dead comforting pit they call status quo
And break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for
In the now of your life while there is still time and hunger in your veins
Turn around and shake off that snake
Because it’s head’s been crushed, no pulverized
So let go of the lie.
Sometimes we imagine that God’s voice is a disappointed hard lined teacher
Who is waiting to whack our knuckles with a ruler for any imperfections
But that isn’t God’s voice at all
That isn’t Gods heart at all
He speaks tenderly
He doesn’t need to raise his voice
He speaks as if He’s right next to us
Because He’s right next to us
Because He goes before us
Because His spirit lives inside us
He starts with love
And not because He is a hopeless romantic
But mostly because
He is ALL LOVE and HOPE and SECOND CHANCES
Let go of the fanged lie and bind the wound with dressings of Truth that will heal your bloodied soul
Take that sharp edge of His Word and hack that snake creeping up the back your neck
The words
The only life hack that will hack off the lie of the snake and make your life whole
We fear that the place we think God’s love will run out or dry up
We fear that place where we think God’s love will run out, dry up, fall of the edge
And we’ll be left dangling beyond its reach
We fear that somewhere God’s love ends
 But His love never runs out
His steadfast love surpasses suburbia
Canvases from skyscrapers to street corners from porch to stoop
His love is looking for you.
Who would you be?
What would you do?
If you weren’t afraid
Could be that you’ve always wanted to come up through the ground
in some desolate place that needed a tree
To bear some fruit for someone with their tongue stuck to the dry roof of their parched mouth
To be a limb that held some baby abandoned
To be a limb that someone could used to swing over the fence and free
We were made from dust
A bit of earth kissed by heaven
made to be groundbreakers
And peacemakers
And freedom shakers
So you can take your glossy Vogue covers and use them for washing windows
Because we’ve always thought the most beautiful women have dirt under their fingernails
And could shake a bit of the very earth out of their warn and pioneering shoes
And lets redefine comfort zone because wherever He takes you
You are with the comforter
Wherever He calls you
You are always in his comfort zone
So live all your present moments in His presence
To keep company with Christ
To get in on the best
There’s a whole Esther generation right here and now and it is us.
Who come broken
Who are done being defeated by fear and worry and stress
Because it advertises the unreliability of God
 Who want hard and Holy things because we want more than hallow lives
A life more than self focus and cell phones
More than iPhones, iTunes and iLove
Who want a life of loving the least, the lonely, and the lost
There is a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
Who are done with easy
Who know that being like Christ and caring for the poor in body and soul
Means more than just caring about easing our consciences
It means living real sacrifice
There is a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
Who say now is the time for the faith brave
To sky dive and fly
To remember that we don’t have to strive to be anyone
To stop taking issue with what God made
To accept that our perfect God makes no mistakes
There’s a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
To take the weight we carry on our backs
And offer it back to the savior who already carried the weight of the world on his shoulders
Who surrender
Who lay out alabaster hopes and dreams at the feet of our Savior
There is a whole Esther generation rising right here and now and it is us
Who will no longer look for peace in opinions
But to find our solid ground in the truth
There are many tomorrows to face
But today, lets open our hearts and our wounds and our stories
To the great story teller
That our lives may be chiseled by His pen
That we may
BELIEVE
and LOVE
and PRAY
and FIGHT
and REST
and LIVE!

Still Winter, Need the Sun. Need Him.

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It’s still winter. I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my bones. I know I’m meant to be from Wisconsin, but somehow the British winter seems to affect me more than anything I grew up with. I feel frozen on the inside.

I’ve gone through seasons of vigilant exercise each morning, springing out of bed and switching on the DVD player. This has not been one of those seasons. I am pushing it till the last minute, with my only real saviour being the ultimate deadline of the school run.

Every morning, I am struggling to wake up.  I am dreading that moment of coming out from beneath the warmth of my duvet. The day stretches before me and all I feel is a sense of dread. It feels like some sort of exam that I haven’t revised for, and where at the end of it I’ll be graded, and each grade will accumulate over time, resulting in some final verdict over my life.

It’s not the truth of course. I know that in my head. I know these things. That I’m loved, that I’m valued, that my worth is not the sum total of what I’ve managed to “do”, that the Holy Spirit empowers me, and that the Father isn’t just leaning over a cloud marking my report card. I know. But it’s cold.

I think I just very often forget Him.

I forget Jesus.

I forget that when I say His name, over and over again, that it feels a little bit like falling in love.

I forget that He shines like A million Suns ablaze, brightening every day, not because he gives me warm fuzzy feelings, but because he is beautiful.

His light gently nudges me out of hiding. His warmth melts my heart that often freezes over from hurt, disappointment, and offense.

He is, my Lighthouse that leads my racing mind home, to the truth.  He is the beauty, that everything we see on earth only hints to.  He is who He is. He doesn’t need reminding. We do. And he knows this.

So for those of us who need some light to shine into our dark minds, who feel the cold in our icy hearts, and who often can’t manage more than just….saying His name. I’m with you.

Come on my soul…..Awake, Spring is coming.

sun shining

 

Post natal Doula work, Judah, and Ann Voskamp.

My heart is full tonight.
Maybe it’s because I’ve just returned from a day doing what I realise I absolutely love.
Maybe because today I realised how much I don’t like telling people what to do….but how much I Love being a safe place for them to come for information and 100% support.
Maybe because I’m reminded of how precious that hard, difficult, soul destroying, sleep deprived, draining, time of life was when my little ones were babies.

It was an unusual dynamic tonight when I got home. Both Jon and I returning from “full days” of work. Iona was left with a friend for an impromptu sleepover and so I brought a disappointed Judah home with me. We decided we’d make up for it by letting him stay up with us a bit later and fall asleep on the couch next to us.

I look over at him. He’s got his sister’s pillow pet with him so he won’t miss her too much. His gaze is far away.  Sometimes his tenderness is enough to shred my heart.
How long has it been? since I’ve held him in my arms until he fell asleep?

Today I held a little baby boy, full of wind, rocking him and winding him for his exhausted mother, remembering it so well….remembering how it felt…willing them to drift off to sleep…desperate to put them down. Yet as I held this little one, I felt privileged.

My mind drifts back to Judah, and his most recent loss.  When he was told the facts, he didn’t really respond, it didn’t sink in. But the other day when we called in to see my mother in law, he took a few steps into the front room, and then just stopped…dead in his tracks, and just stood there with such a sad look on his face, staring at Granddad’s chair, empty. We asked him what was wrong and he just gave a bit of a whimper and turned around and buried his face in the furniture. There are just no words….he’s lost his mate…one of his biggest fans….Thank God for the hours spent on puzzles, connect four, and simply being together watching Micky Mouse on the telly. Time spend just the two of them. Time I am so glad he had…and so pray will be clear in his memories for the rest of his life.

So tonight Jon and I sit in our front room, with our little lad snuggled on the couch. We’re not hurrying him off to bed…we’re not rushing through a story, we’re unashamedly spoiling him with as much fun as we can muster on a Friday night when we’re both exhausted.

Before I left the new mother today we had a chat about parenting styles……I said “you will never ever regret the time you spent cuddling…no matter how hard it was….when I look back, I am more likely to feel sad over the times I rushed things, and where I wasn’t fully present, never the times when I spent that extra time…just being with them”

Judah is breathing deeply now…fast asleep…..having drifted off after spending time with his dad….hearing stories about Hobbits, and watching images of Hobbits on Youtube along with the gorgeous soundtrack. (Jon has been telling the kids his own version of the Hobbit every night at bedtime)

I pray he remembers….

“Judah what should we get daddy for Christmas”
Judah: “I want to get him a picture of his dad”

At the moment I’m reading a lot of Ann Voskamp’s blog.….her big thing is thankfulness…..Many years ago now I was told Gratefulness was the secret to surviving a hot sticky summer sleeping on the hard floor in a remote village in India….I didn’t get it then…

The weight of Judah’s raw emotions touches me deep inside. I remember his high pitched scream as a young toddler, before he could speak. He has never been shy about expressing what he feels and now that he’s talking, he’s scarily articulate about his likes and dislikes. You always know how he’s feeling…and most of the time…he seems to be overflowing with

Joy

Judah: “thank you God for trains, thank you God for cars, Thank you God for planes, thank you God for food…..and thank you God for Granddad….Amen……and with all my heart….Amen”

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Judah’s name means praise….

I’m starting to get it.

 

 

 

Advent Day 2

Day 2 of Advent.

Iona has enjoyed her Jaquline Lawson Advent Calendar so far, a present from Granny. It’s a  sort of interactive Downton Abbey (Pre WW1) does Christmas with a bit of an upstairs downstairs theme.

Mondays are actually great days for me because I love my Monday Morning Bible Study group. I love doing the studies, but I also take huge delight in seeing other people enjoying them too. I have to admit though, it’s a group that touches on my insecurities and vulnerabilities still. I cringe every time I hear my phone go off on a Monday morning…usually someone texting me to tell me they won’t be there. In my head I can totally get that people have legitimate reasons for not being there…but there is this little voice inside me that says  “they are rejecting you….you are not good enough for them” even though I do my best to make the group not about me by including as many people who are willing in it’s leadership and deflecting as much of the actual teaching as I can….paving the way for others to take it over should anything happen to me. Yet despite all this….there is something raw that get’s prodded every Monday morning. There have been times I’ve set out the tables and chairs in total despair wondering why I bother…but always…by the end of it….I’m lifted somehow..and it’s nothing to do with how many people turn up. I wish I had a more creative way of just stating the obvious…God’s word is powerful, and it lifts me out of my self, and puts my mind straight and adjusts my wonky self centred perspective.

Ann Voskamp writes today about creation….about the hugeness of God….and His love. She challenges us to show love today by making something for someone, and identifying people who are hard to love.

So tonight I made the cupcakes for Iona’s 7th Birthday party on Sunday. I’ll put them in the freezer and frost them at the weekend.

Who’s hard to love? Just today I feel slightly tested in this area. It’s easy to say we love people, but it’s a lot harder to show it, especially when we don’t feel it. Christmas is about Love….and love that was undeserved, not based on anything we did. This is hard for me to swallow.
It’s a pleasure to make cup cakes for my precious gorgeous daughter’s party….but do I feel like being kind to someone who’s deceived me and lied to me? Ugh.

More Love needed already…and it’s only day 2!!

 

 

Starting Advent

Advent is here. I’m already feeling tired, and drained.  I remember growing up only hearing the word “advent” in relation to our advent calendar. I had the old kind with the little pictures, and I used to love it.

And so it begins. We’ve been looking at the Advent Conspiracy in life group, which is good food for thought. The themes of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All all seem to be resonating with people. Interestingly one of the charities being promoted through the Advent Conspiracy is one that brings clean water to impoverished underdeveloped villages around the world.  So it felt very fitting that many of us woke up today to no water! There was a damaged water pipe on our estate so that of course made leaving the house interesting.

I’ve also decided to do read Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” which takes a look at the genealogy of Christ. Today she talked about the Root Of Jesse…Jesus as the tender shoot that sprung up out of a stump of a tree long chopped down. In what way do I feel like a chopped down tree? Well, I suppose I and been looking forward to a birth this Christmas, due the 25th of December actually, and I am no longer. It’s for reasons entirely out of my hands and I am thankful for this baby’s safe arrival and health of the mother, but from the standpoint of my role, of my job, of this “calling” to be a doula, I feel slightly winded. I don’t know what God has in store in the new year for me and this job. Right now it does feel very tender, very vulnerable, and that it could go either way.

It’s the 1st of December, and I’m already tired. Ann talks about Jesus as being this gift to us….this is one gift I truly do need.

Christmas Presents: 
For me: The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
For one of my darling Nieces: Pj’s from Tiny Ted and Farmyard Friends, a local shop run by a lovely friend of mine, selling quality ethical, fair trade, organic, British, etc children’s clothing.

 

On the eve of Autumn Worship

Autumn is well and truly here. Many of us are back to dark, rushed, mornings, navigating our way through the morning fog, a million things on our mind, under a general cloud of feeling overwhelmed.

I don’t know if it’s the weather, the feeling of never being quite warm enough, the dark mornings, the cold rain, which makes us all rush past each other as we walk through town or up the school path, or just the come down after a lovely summer, but I often find myself battling depression during this season.

Emerging from a warm home early on a Sunday morning with the weight of the coming week starting to overwhelm, while still hanging on to the baggage of the previous week feels unnatural. Yet here we are, and we’ve got songs to sing! Matt Redman’s got a new album out“Your Grace Finds me”, and I’ve chosen from it what I think will be a fun and easy song to learn called “Sing and Shout”, it’s a celebration song that may feel like it’s more suited to a warm outdoor summer celebration, not a cold October morning.

But I encourage you to lift up your head this morning and worship. Not in valiant “fake it till you make it” effort, but out of a place of hope. Not hope in a favourite song, a catchy new song, or an old favourite, but rather in Jesus. As we worship Him, we acknowledge His goodness, His greatness, His love, and His presence in our lives and in the world. There is power in His name, power to lift shame and melt cynicism, restore, and heal.

So for the mother who yelled at her children every morning this week, for the couple who just had a fight on their way here, to the person who smiles on the outside but finds herself fighting back tears because she just wishes she had one real friend she could be honest with, to the person who has done nothing but work hard all week only to still battle feelings of failure, to the person who feels hurt and offended and is struggling to forgive, the person who’s convinced themselves that they don’t belong or fit in, the person who still hasn’t had a tangible spiritual experience and is still searching, the person who’s battling the darkness of their own heart and living under a cloud of shame, and to the person who spends most of their time on a Sunday in the crèche with a small child, the person fighting feelings of depression and hopelessness, I see you, I’ve been there, I’m still there, and I get it. More importantly, God sees you, and He wants you to look up and see Him.

I have found the only thing in my life that truly satisfies, is His presence. When I come to the end of myself, He is there. He give me beauty for ashes, He bathes my mind in truth, He gives me Hope, and even joy in the darkest of situations and mindsets. The beautiful warm summer we’ve enjoyed may feel like a distant memory, but by the end of our time of worship, I hope we can all see a glimmer of the spring that will come after the winter. He is with us. I pray we feel and enjoy His presence together, and that our praise starts to overflow and our hearts and lives glorify our amazing God.

Cramming waste, spending, and stress.

The last few weeks have been a blur.

My last blog was all about how much I enjoyed the media fast. That seems ages ago. Since then we’ve done Waste Week, which I kind of did ok at until the day before going on holiday and I had to just use the tumble dryer….since then, I’ve tried to be more mindful, but at the moment we don’t even have a washing line set up right….so that’s my excuse. It pains me though. Whenever I visit my friend Beverley, and see her managing to dry all her laundry across the back of her small paved yard, when she works three days a week and obviously has far less spare time than me, I feel challenged.

Thankfully, “seven” is NOT about guilt, it’s not about being more “this” or “that” then the next person. It hits us where we’re at, and just turns the spotlight on a few things we may not have thought of before. I think the whole idea of Waste week was to remind us that God made this earth, and if we love God, we’re going to want to look after what he’s made, and not treat it like a spoiled child treats a toy, thinking “what does it really matter? I can just get a new one”.  Appreciating and looking after the earth is just another great way to be closer to God and make space for Him.

While feeling a little bit down about how Waste week had sort of fizzled out for me personally, I felt God remind me that I may not be great at hanging my washing out, and I’m kind of rubbish at being “sustainable” and can’t garden to save my life (yet), but suddenly this voice came into my head and said “but you did breastfeed”. Oh yeah…that. Breastfeeding is one great way to contribute to the waste/environmental issue, and it also saved me at least £1,000 the first year. I’m not saying it get’s me off the hook though, I’m certainly more aware, and am going to do my best to do more.

Spending week made for good reading. It was challenging, insightful, and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I’m a big spender. Even if I was, the constraints of living on one steady income with a sporadic modest second income have their realities. But I realise I may be one of those people who sort of (to use an American expression) nickel and dime my money away. A few coffee’s here, a few books there, and suddenly my monthly allowance is gone and there’s no room to be generous or to give and I have this horridly distorted idea in my head that I’m somehow “poor”. ridiculous. Spending week was not just for those people who can afford to go shopping on their lunch hour and buy new clothes whenever they fancy, it was for all of us, wherever we think we’re at.

Stress week came just in time. Life seems to be flying by at the moment. In previous years I have often looked on and observed that busy family with all the different activities and felt a twinge of jealousy. They really seemed to be “living” and “having a life” while my family sat around on a Saturday not doing anything.

I think my kids are starting to get to that age where if we are going to ensure they don’t get run raged and that we don’t look back in ten years time and wonder where the time went, we’re going to start having to be intentional about taking breaks. A formal Sabbath may not be practical in this day and age and culture, but wow, what a novel idea! So many things we view as inconveniences are actually there for our benefit. We talked about this in the group and I told them all about the Red Tent idea, I mean, what a perfect idea that was!! God tells all the men that women are “unclean” when their on their periods…but actually…he’s giving them a well deserved four day rest where they can all hang out and chat together. Genius.

But back to the 21st century where it’s considered noble to “not be able to sit still” and to “have to be doing something or else I feel guilty”. When I see someone who doesn’t stop, if I’m having an insecure moment I will find myself admiring them and wondering  how they do it and wishing I could be that cool and together and busy.

So the last few weeks after our holiday have been busy. Ballet recitals, drama practices, trips to Edinburgh to renew passports, antenatal session prep for a client, the marriage course, life group, worship leading, birth hope day, it’s all been “a go” as they’d say in Ireland. So am I cool now? I mean, does all that stuff I listed validate me? Does it make me feel like I’m good enough? Yeah right. You know what? I miss my friends. I miss having random coffee’s with friends in the afternoon while the kids play. I miss being able to have my neighbour’s baby for the day and look after him. I miss having a leisurely conversation with Emma in the afternoon while I cook tea, instead of hurrying off the phone because the house has taken on a life of it’s own, yet again, because I have not been able to face it with being so wonderfully busy.

Ugh. Not the life for me. However, seasons like this are inevitable. And Jen had some great ideas for learning how to take sabbath moments during the day. Some tips from the ancients on seven sacred pauses. I haven’t had a chance to do it yet…but I want to! It makes so much sense! I also love the whole idea of dipping into older church tradition. I think sometimes we modern Christians think that people really weren’t saved prior to Azusa street or one of the great reformations or Wesley revivals.

Do I have any of this stuff nailed?? Not. at. all. However I’m more aware….and it’s starting to work. I was in a huge heap of stress on Friday. I had set aside the whole morning to catch up with a friend, which was good solid sabbath time. You don’t tell your friend who you only see once a year you can’t see her because you need to do the food shopping. Anyway, that afternoon I was in between food shops, and just feeling totally overwhelmed and panicky, My mind was on something I had to do later in the week and I was hitting a wall. After going down the wrong road and having to turn around, I don’t know quite how it happened, but I just stopped somehow, prayed, and then suddenly got this overflow of ideas come into my head to help me know what to do. I ended up sitting in the Tesco car park with Judah in the back seat, and just crying, and writing down everything that was coming to me, and breathing. I had a real peace for the rest of that crazy afternoon, and lo and behold, I survived the weekend I’d been dreading, and even lead worship this morning which I’d tried to get out of on Thursday after a late night coming back from Edinburgh, but Jeff just sort of pretended not to hear when I said “umm, i don’t think I can do it”.

So tomorrow morning’s our “wrap up”, but I don’t know that any of this will get wrapped up neatly…this one’s a messy one…a very messy one…almost as messy as my house right now.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Media Week

Ok I totally survived media week. It was just the detox I needed. However the challenge with these things, as always, is to not sink into the addictive patterns again.

I didn’t enforce it with the kids, (and i obviously didn’t enforce it with Jon) but I think by default, they needed media less, because I was more “present” with them? Maybe? I mean, I didn’t exactly pull down the jigsaws and get on the floor with them, but maybe me being less “plugged in” has more of an impact than I realise.

After my December Facebook fast, I took it off my phone, and after this fast, I’ve taken it off my kindle. Now that I have my own laptop again, I’m loath to use Jon’s desktop, and because I’m a little paranoid about just leaving my lap top sitting out on the table, I’ve taken to shutting it down and storing it more often, so it’s not like this constant thing that’s “on” and “central”.

In this Seven study, Jen Hatmaker often talks about these tiny little changes we make, little by little, that when added up, make a difference. For me, I could make a promise not to buy any clothes for a year, and between my lack of means to do so, and low interest levels, I could easily do it. But that’s not my issue, so I’m not going to go there. For people who have that issue, the smallest positive decisions they make with regards to spending are going to make a difference when added up and they should be encouraged in their journey.  It’s not always the big dramatic actions that yield long term results and change.

So back to me and my issues. I think I’m going to be realistic and realise getting social media in balance in my life may be a series of small decisions, lapses, victories, and slow progress, and the most important thing really, is being aware, admitting my weaknesses, and talking about it honestly within a supportive environment.

Giving up Facebook 100% may have been the detox I needed last week,  but during the week I was frustrated at the amount of times I could have used Facebook as a constructive, time saving communication tool, to my advantage and the advantage of others. The problem is the amount of time that get’s eaten and wasted.

I’ve had a week back in the thick of things online. The first thing I checked was Jen Hatmaker’s profile and saw that she’d been flown into NYC to be interviewed on the Today Show!! I enjoyed her humour, but refrained from reading any more comments while noting the comment tally on her blog was over 4,000! I’ve also got stuck in to promoting my Doula services, as well as the next Birth Hope Day.

We leave to go on Holiday on Friday and I’m looking forward to another week of dialled down media….

Don’t ask me about Waste Week just yet. I’m totally overwhelmed. Hanging clothes out to dry with no operational clothes line this week while trying to pack for a holiday in an effort to not use the tumble dryer….well, I think I may have to admit defeat tomorrow morning when I go into mad packing rush mode.

I’ll see if I can find time to fill you in on how this week is going before we head off on holiday. You’ll just laugh at me I know!

 

 

The Big Church Day out 2013

I’m avoiding getting into my car. I spilled milk in it last week and it stinks and having been away all weekend, I have not had a chance to scrub it. Today it’s raining, so I’m in the house, doing laundry,and just going over some of the great music I heard, discovered, and soaked in over the weekend at The Big Church Day Out.

The kids were little troopers. There was plenty for them to do, but as well as all of that, we dragged them to all the bands we wanted to see, including an 11:30 PM campfire with the Rend Collective where they both fell fast asleep on the ground in their pj’s and wellies. We all caught the sun, and my face looks like I had a terrible accident with fake tan.

You know that family with two parents, two children, all kitted out in waterproofs? The family who puts sunscreen on in the morning? The family who remembered to bring tissues? The family with the immaculate camping space? That wasn’t us. They were our neighbours. I didn’t even bring a rain jacket. I managed the weekend with no shower and one pair of jeans that sort of got trashed the first day.

Despite having a horrid cold, and a very cold and rainy first day, we all survived the weekend in one piece. What is it about camping? The extreme out of your comfort zone experience combined with experiences you just could not replicate anywhere else? I was so thankful to the random South African guy who helped Jon put the tent up in the pouring rain while the kids and I shivered in the car.

The weekend can be summed up in two things. Me welling up a lot, and my heart resonating.  Musically there were a lot sentimental moments, (I saw Amy Grant all 3 times she was on, and got to sit on the front row in the tea tent for her long acoustic set Saturday evening!!!) many truly worshipful moments, some moments of pure beauty, and just some WOW moments.

I loved that although the weekend was about celebration, family time, relaxation, and just pure fun, all the things you want from a good day out, there was an undercurrent of outworking as well. Christians Against Poverty were the main sponsors of the event, an incredible organization that helps people out of debt. Costa Coffee donated their coffee, (and their branding), for them to sell. Nothing like a proper Hazelnut Americano when you’re camping! Not only did the family get a free hovercraft ride, but we found out about this great organization that delivers medical aid (via hovercraft) to people in Madagascar! I discovered Global Seesaw, who sell gorgeous clothes and various bit and pieces fair trade/anti trafficking etc. Missions was just…like everywhere around the event. From the Tear Fund tea tent to the marketplace where there was one display after another.

The main resonating moment came from The Rend Collective at the campfire. We were about five feet away from them and I could see they were very much a typical group of Irish musicians who loved to rip on each other and banter.  They passionately spoke about how Christianity is not something to be packaged and sold like Starbucks sells coffee. So many people try to “Brand” church, feeling they have to make God appealing, that they have to somehow sell the gospel so people  will be interested. So. not. where. I’m. at. They also talked about being raised in church and youth group and getting to their 20’s and suddenly struggling and realizing it’s not so black and white…and so much of their music is a reflection of them coming out the other side of that…and is very much where I’m at and probably not only why I love their style, but their lyrics so much. A lot of stuff resonated. I also loved hearing from Peter Greig from Prayer 24/7 (another formative influence during my time in the UK).

The event ended with Chai and Hot Chocolate, cuddles on the side of the hill, worshipping with Matt Redman, and concluded with singing 10,000 reasons with nearly that many people!! Later that night, Jon and I sat in our tent, after putting the kids in their sleeping bags, and listened as they drifted off to sleep singing the songs from the weekend.  Despite having a cold, getting sun burnt, wearing dirty yucky clothes, and not sleeping terribly well. (one night I woke up to Iona crying in her sleep, and could not see Judah anywhere…he was UNDER the air mattress…fast asleep!!!! eek!) It was a brilliant weekend, and a blessing as well as a challenge to our family.

iona carasol

 

 

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